ST MATTHIAS DAY February 24th
Father Richard Sorfleet, Saint John Fisher Mission, Renfrew, Ontario
The lesson gives scriptural warrant to a section found in the Anglican Rite's Exhortation introducing the penitential preparation to the communuion which for modern ears hearing it, is ponderous Tudor prose, dark and alien to the bright and breezy experiences from today's liturgical compositions, where feeling good rather than theological meaningfulness has become the priority come-away.
...if we receive the same [i.e. the holy Communion of the body and blood of our Saviour Christ] unworthily. For then we be guilty of the body and blood of Christ our Saviour; we eat and drink our own damnation, not considering the Lord's body; we kindle God's wrath against us; we provoke him to plague us with divers diseases, and sundry kinds of death. Therefore, if any of you be a blasphemer of God, an hinderer or slanderer of his Word, an adulterer, or be in malice, or envy, or in any other grievous crime, bewail your sins, and come not to this holy Table; lest, after the taking of that holy Sacrament, the devil enter into you, as he entered into Judas, and fill you full of all iniquities, and bring you to destruction both of body and soul. Judge therefore yourselves, (brethren) that ye be not judged of the Lord; repent you truly for your sins past; have a lively and stedfast faith in Christ our Saviour; amend your lives, and be in perfect charity with all men; so shall ye be meet partakers of those holy mysteries.'
Peter quotes the Book of Psalms:
"‘Let another take his office.’ So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us (Acts 1 ESV) in preparing for the vote to replace Judas among the Twelve.
Matthias would be fully aware of Jesus' message and the requirements for entry into the Kingdom of Heaven. He would have listened to the parables, seen the miracles, heard the words about the betrayal, death and resuurection, and seen the power of God.
The point is are we?
Our point of contact with Christ is in the Word and the Sacrament and it is essential that we listen to the meaning of the message read and preached, and be aware what is required in our approach to His table, and the consequences of being ill- or unprepared, or just taking the whole sacramental experience lightly.
We live in an age when 30 pieces of silver, willingness to betray and lack of commitment abound, and pay little if any attention to what God may think or do. There is an old saying about given enough rope to hang one's self.
Matthias would have known Judas' final experience with ropes.
We kindle God's wrath in many ways and although they might not manifest themselves in a more scientific age as the vivid medieval visions plague and sundry kinds of death thing, yet we need to ask ourselves as we presume to come to that His table, are we well and truly prepared as Matthias to approach it and then go forth as Christ's disciples?
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